Actions on cyber violence needed for healthy online environment
Published: Jun 13, 2023 11:56 PM
Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

 At present, the constant development of social media provides users with multi-functional platforms to share opinions, insights and experiences. However, some users are likely to attack or judge others unscrupulously, showing no respect for life and thereby violating public morality and traditional values. Recently, the news of a mother who committed suicide shocked us as she had been the target of abuse on the internet as she suffered from the agony of losing her son, who died in a campus car accident. The suicide aroused widespread public attention, as have other similar tragedies caused by cyber violence that have been seen from time to time over the past few years around the world. It is past time for individuals and the entirety of society to reflect on these incidents so we may uncover the factors that led to them and develop measures to prevent or, at least, reduce such tragedies. 

For individuals, this may come down to psychological issues and a lack of personal cultivation. From a psychological perspective, intentionally abusing others, the most typical form of cyber-bullying, is a type of aggressive behavior. For example, some people may feel angry as a result of being bullied by others and thus they need a way to give vent to their negative feelings, and the internet has become an ideal platform since they can speak rather freely and anonymously. Consequently, some hapless netizens suddenly become the targets of this negativity. 

This also leads to another relevant psychological concept - displacement. Displacement is when a person transfers his or her emotions to a person or object who are less threatening than those who initially aroused those feelings. In other words, the original victims may displace their negative emotions on others, and thus they go from victim to bully. 

Conformity on the internet is another catalyst. Conformity is the tendency to follow the actions of the majority. No snowflake is innocent when an avalanche occurs. The herd mentality makes most netizens lose their rational judgment, which means that they blindly follow the opinions of others and help create a snowball effect, making cyber violence inevitable. From the view of personal cultivation, due to a lack of integrity, self-discipline and respect for life, too many people speak out before they get the whole picture and they judge others based on a one-sided story or what they believe to be true.

At the level of society, the absence of life education may account for such phenomenon. Some people may ask, what exactly is life education? As the soul of education, life education is comprehensive, telling us how to behave like a human being, how to cultivate our ability to value life and improve life quality. In short, a respect for life is basic to life education. When a person has learned to respect other people's well-being and to view life with reverence, this is good life education. Should we acquire sound life education, we as educators should try our best to provide safe environments for students and guide them to respect and value life. As netizens, we should not allow ourselves to make any comments that disrespect others.

Another reason why cyber violence continues to happen over the years despite repeated prohibitions lies in a lack of specific laws and regulations that can effectively restrain and punish internet users who carry out online attacks.

Therefore, we should take action to make up for what is lacking and prepare for a sound future. For individuals, we should learn to show basic respect for life and exercise self-discipline and thus avoid judging anyone in a hasty manner. For society, more attention should be given to life education. When people have a reverence for life and care for their family members and for others, they will undoubtedly be happier as individuals and society as a whole will become more harmonious. Moreover, as the saying goes, "justice may be delayed, but not denied." Enacting laws against cyber violence is urgently needed to uphold justice and maintain social equity.

The author is a faculty member with the School of Applied Economics, Renmin University of China.